Young people will interview government ministers on stage as part of plans to make this autumn’s climate change summit the “most inclusive ever”, the government has announced.
A whole day will be dedicated to listening to the views of selected young climate activists at Cop26, the global summit due to be held in Glasgow in November. The event will heavily feature the “marginalised generation”, many of whom have said they have been ignored by governments.
Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s Cop26 spokesperson, said she hoped it would be the most inclusive Cop ever with people of all ages invited to join the discussions.
Stratton was originally chosen to front the prime minister’s televised press conferences, but when these were scrapped she was given job of promoting and helping to organise Cop26.
She has thrown herself into the role with gusto, recently throwing out all of her plastic bathroom products in favour of shampoo bars in aid of her “One Step Greener” initiative. High-profile figures will be asked to take one step in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint.
Government officials from around the globe, including UK ministers, will be interrogated by young people during the youth climate day, the first such event to be held at a Cop.
One young climate activist who will not be attending is Greta Thunberg, who has argued that the conference should be either postponed or held in a more accessible way as many countries do not have the same access to vaccines and safe travel.
Officials behind the conference say they are still working out a way to “ensure her voice is heard”. They are selecting young voices for the youth day, but recent campaigners Stratton has been in conversation with include the UK nature and climate campaigner Bella Lack, who recently spearheaded an initiative to buy part of the Chocó rainforest in Colombia; Liz Wathuti from Kenya, who was behind a campaign to plant 30,000 tree seedlings; and India Logan-Riley from New Zealand, who campaigns on climate change and indigenous rights.
Young activists have moved the needle on the climate change discussion in recent years, most notably during the school strikes organised by Thunberg.
Each day of the intensive two-week climate negotiations will focus on a different theme. Some examples include clean energy, zero-emission transport and protecting nature, as well as ensuring that the participation of women, girls and young people is at the centre of climate action.
Experts will discuss other more technical themes such as science, innovation and inclusivity, as well as the need to mitigate climate change, adapt to its impacts, and mobilise public and private finance.
The Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, said: “The Cop26 summit in Glasgow is our best hope of safeguarding the planet for everyone, building a brighter future and keeping the 1.5C target alive.
“I have been pleased to see progress and momentum on the four key goals I have been taking to governments across the world, and the presidency programme will continue this throughout the two weeks of the summit. From finance to energy and gender to adaptation, these are vital issues that need to be addressed to make Cop26 inclusive and successful.”